The Kid Laroi enlisted a team of heavy-hitting songwriters for his global hit “Stay” featuring Justin Bieber. With a roster of writers and producers that features Charlie Puth, Blake Slatkin (Lil Was X, Lizzo), Cashmere Cat (Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande), HAAN (Juice WRLD) and Australian production and songwriting duo FnZ (Michael “Finatik” Mule and Isaac “Zac” De Boni, “Stay” was destined for success. Below, we look at the story behind “Stay.”
Videos by American Songwriter
Meaning Behind the Song
Puth was an instrumental part of the song, as he is the one who played the melody on piano that became the foundation of the song. It all started when Laroi, Puth, and fellow writers Omer Fedi and Slatkin were at Slatkin’s house when Puth started playing a melody off-the-cuff on the piano that caught Laroi’s ear, so much so that he recorded it on his phone and later digitized it in production software.
“It was probably the most organic way of making a song I’ve ever done ever,” Laroi recalls to NME of the night the song came together. “It reminded me of the first time [I got to] get into a studio. We didn’t plan for the song to happen. We never planned a studio session or anything like that, so it was crazy.”
“Charlie and Laroi had never met, so we were all just sitting and talking and Charlie said, ‘Turn the Juno on,'” Slatkin recalled to Variety about how the song was conceived. “That was the first thing he played, that riff, and Laroi’s like, ‘Wow, I think I hear something with that.’ We didn’t even plan to record, I definitely would never have thought that we were going to make a song that day. Watching Laroi and Charlie do that initial idea was one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen, it was insane. It just came out of Laroi. He played that, and Laroi’s melody and lyrics came out, first take.”
Months later, Laroi was listening to the track and had the idea to send it to Bieber. The two initially connected via Instagram when Bieber direct messaged Laroi with his song “Unstable,” which Laroi was a guest artist on and was featured on Bieber’s 2021 album, Justice.
“I was scrambling around trying to find a song for him and I was just looking through my notes and I came across this ‘Stay’ thing that I’d had for some months and it was just a super rough idea,” Laroi explains to SiriusXM, adding that sent Bieber two tracks, one of which was “Stay.”
“He really liked the ‘Stay’ one…one day I just pulled up on his studio with the files and I was like, ‘Alright let’s record this shit’ and he did it and it sounded great.” However, Laroi also notes that Bieber was unsure of his vocals, as he was recording them on the spot. “He’d be like, ‘Yo, do you like this? Is this good?’ and I’d be like, ‘Just keep going,'” Laroi told NME of reassuring his collaborator in the studio.
“Stay” became Laroi’s first No. 1 song in the U.S. and topped the Billboard Global 200 that takes into account streaming numbers from more than 200 countries. It also reached No. 1 in 24 countries, including the Laroi and Beiber’s native Australia and Canada, respectively.
Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for WarnerMedia